Luther and the Reformation: eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 145 pages of information about Luther and the Reformation:.

And yet, with all his zealous personal endeavors and high authority, he could hardly get it posted, promulged, or at all respected in Germany.  His parchment thunder lost its power in coming across the Alps.  Miltitz also was in his way, who, with equal authority from the pope, was endeavoring to supersede the Bull by attempts at reconciliation.  It came to Wittenberg in such a sorry plight that Luther laughed at it as having the appearance of a forgery by Dr. Eck.  He knew the pope had been bullied into the issuing of it, but this was the biting irony by which he indicated the character of the men by whom it was moved and the pitiable weakness to which such thunders had been reduced.

But it was a Bull of excommunication nevertheless.  Luther and his doctrines were condemned by the chief of Christendom.[10] Multitudes were thrown into anxious perturbation.  If the strong arm of the emperor should be given to sustain the pope, who would be able to stand?  Adrian, one of the faculty of Wittenberg, was so frightened that he threw down his office and hastened to join the enemy.

Amid the perils which surrounded Luther powerful knights offered to defend him by force of arms; but he answered, “No; by the Word the world was conquered, by the Word the Church was saved, and by the Word it must be restored.”  The thoughts of his soul were not on human power, but centred on the throne of Him who lives for ever.  It was Christ’s Gospel that was in peril, and he was sure Jehovah would not abandon his own cause.

Germany waited to see what he would do.  Nor was it long kept in suspense.


[10] The Bull was issued June 15, 1520.  It specified forty-one propositions out of Luther’s works which it condemned as heretical, scandalous, and offensive to pious ears.  It forbade all persons to read his writings, upon pain of excommunication.  Such as had any of his books in their possession were commanded to burn them.  He himself, if he did not publicly recant his errors and burn his books within sixty days, was pronounced an obstinate heretic, excommunicated and delivered over to Satan.  And it enjoined upon all secular princes, under pain of incurring the same censure, to seize his person and deliver him up to be punished as his crimes deserved; that is to be burnt as a heretic.


In a month he discharged a terrific volley of artillery upon the Papacy by his book Against the Bull of Antichrist.

In thirteen days later he brought formal charges against the pope—­first, as an unjust judge, who condemns without giving a hearing; second, as a heretic and apostate, who requires denial that faith is necessary; third, as an Antichrist, who sets himself against the Holy Scriptures and usurps their authority; and fourth, as a blasphemer of the Church and its free councils, who declares them nothing without himself.

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Luther and the Reformation: from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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